Saturday, 11 April 2015

What I Learned (on my Summer Vacation) Editing an Anthology

What I Learned on my Summer Vacation Editing an Anthology

            Hi, my name is Liz, and I am an editor. I own and operate a small company called Pop Seagull Publishing.
            I am also a writer. I am an animator looking for my next film or TV project, and a gamer, a fan, a seamstress, an activist, and a lover of chubby animals everywhere. I wear many hats, as we all do. 
            However, if you're anything like I am, you probably would have stopped at the first descriptor. I was the same way, before I edited a full-length anthology and opened my company up to submissions.
            Submitting to editors is easily the most daunting task in writing. It can feel as though you're casting your baby into a sea of criticism, or beating against a barricade guarded by unfeeling gatekeepers, especially if you're new or still developing. But editors are human, and nothing proved that to me more than editing for myself... because I know I'm human.
            So, in the grand tradition of internet listicles, I thought I'd compile some of what I'd learned, to help authors in getting out there and not fearing rejection, or editors, so much.

1: Cover letters were not a determining factor for me.

A lot of people agonize over cover letters, feeling that they will make or break their chances. My main concerns in the cover letter were:

a) How long the story is

b) Whether it's the right genre, and

c) Whether it's the right theme for the anthology.

Occasionally, when I had two very similar stories, I might glance at credentials. However, a magnificent story would be picked up whether it was written by a total unknown or Stephen King.

2: The general quality of work I received was very good.

From the way I had heard other editors talking, and the endless Do and Don't advice given about submissions, I was expecting to be fighting the quality wars throughout the reading process. However, I found that on the whole, the submissions I received were at a University writing level or better, and most had decent, fairly original concepts. The difference is always in the finer points of style and execution, so be bold! There is a lot of stiff competition out there.

3: Many times, rejections or acceptances were determined by fit, more than anything.

Seriously. A lot of times it's not you. Maybe your story isn't quite the right feel... or it could be something even more mundane, such as a lack of funds or space. There are so many practical reasons that something can be rejected that it's silly to assume that it's about quality every time, unless someone tells you so.

4: I got into this business to promote good work, not to (ha!) get rich.

That's right... the editor is on your side. Just like the audience for a stage play or a movie, I want to be entertained. I want to find people to promote, who can breathe fresh air into my books. Certainly, on some projects at some companies, the accountants are going to win out, or the publishing house will want to go low-risk and use only big name authors, but many editors get into this work for the thrill of discovery. As someone who has worked in multiple artistic disciplines, I enjoy the opportunity to push others' work forward and make a difference for those that need a platform. It's thrilling for me, and I love the people I meet in the process.

5: I genuinely want to see your work again, regardless of your skill level or my response to your previous submissions.

Please submit again. Keep trying. I wanted to see every author that made a genuine effort again. Rejection does not equal shunning, or a lack of curiosity about your other work. In fact, I had to reject several authors this time around that I dearly hope I can fit in next time. That could be you, and if you don't try again, you'll never get in.

 If you're curious about the anthology that prompted all of this personal growth, then check out Love, Time, Space, Magic, Pop Seagull's latest collection of science fiction and fantasy love stories, available through Createspace, Amazon, Kobo and iBooks. Maybe you'll fall in love, too.

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